On my second day in Oaxaca I was stopped by a young German lad who worked for a local travel agent, and he told me about the day trips that they organise. I usually just stick to organising my own holidays, rather than going with an agency because things work out cheaper. But one of the trips went to a few places I wanted visit that I know would be difficult to get to relying just on public transport, and the tour was a very reasonable price, only 150 pesos. This only covered transport, so I still had to pay for entry to the places we visited, but it was still a good deal. So I took a flyer, and the next day I signed up for one of the trips.
Árbol del Tule
The first stop on the tour was a very large old tree called The Tree of Tule, which is estimated to be at least 1,200 years old. The tree has a very wide trunk, with a circumference of 42m, and it’s height is around 35m.
The next stop was to visit some local artisan carpet makers, who explained and demonstrated how they made the carpets. There had some very nice carpets for sale, but I wasn’t really looking to buy a carpet (and it wouldn’t be the easiest thing to take home with me). I did buy a nice wool beanie though.
Hierve el Agua
After a long drive though the Oaxaca mountains, the next stop was Hierve el Agua (spanish for “the water boils”), a set of natural rock formations. The formations come from natural spring in the mountains that contains a lot of minerals that are deposited as the water runs down the side of the mountain. The name comes from the way the water bubbles up at the sources. There are a few pools of water which it is possible to swim in, but no one in the group did.
The mineral deposits over time have created what look like stone water falls. The one above is called “cascade chica” (small waterfall), and the one below is called “cascade grande” (big waterfall).
The least interesting part of the trip for me was the stop at a small local distillery that makes Mezcal, a distilled alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant (a type of Agave).
The last stop was a visit to a small archeological site called Mitla, which was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. The most interesting thing about the site is the many mosaics on the walls that are made from small cut stones and arranged in different geometric patterns.